Tag lines can make or break a company. Nikes Just Do It is arguably as famous as the company itself. For years, Coca Cola ads extolled Coke Is It and later Coke Adds Life. I can still recall (okay Im not that old, I just have a really good memory) that Winston tastes good, like a cigarette should and that Id walk a mile for a Camel. Numerous spins off have resulted from the Got Milk? campaign to the point where it has become part of pop culture. Apple implores the world to Think Different, Avis promises to Try Harder, and M&Ms will always Melt in your mouth, not in your hands.

Many, if not all, of these tag lines serve as positioning statements. They tell why the company is different or better than all the rest. If you want something that Tastes great, less filling then you know to reach for a Miller Lite. The old Timex ads let us know that their watch Takes a licking, and keeps on ticking. In this case the positioning revolved around reliability and durability.

So why then, (and heres where I give out my #1 tag line pet peeve) do we still have tag lines that apologize for a companys main product or service? I sometimes call them non-statement statements, and here are just a few past and present

Were more than great coats Burlington Coat Factory

We more than just staffing Advanced Staffing

Were more than a bus company Pacific Western

Were more than just computer sales Discount Computer Sales

More than a bank Arkansas Valley State Bank

You probably get the general idea. This type of tag line double speak is usually indicative of a deeper problem, the company brand name itself. In the case of Burlington Coat Factory, they had grown to a point in the late 90s where coat sales only accounted for 20% of their total revenue. Rather than rebrand, they launched a $48 million advertising campaign with the tag line Were more than great coats. There are a few problems with this strategy

1. It takes an apologetic stance for the companys main product line.

Whats wrong with being a bus company, or a bank, or a staffing company? And if there is something inherently wrong, then perhaps its time to re-examine the company name. If the name is too confining, too narrow, why spend $48 million to try to overcome a self made obstacle? Its often less expensive and more effective to rebrand than to carpet bomb the media in an attempt to overwrite the literal meaning of a company name.

2. It doesnt explain who you are, what you are or what you do.

As if apologizing for the companys core product wasnt bad enough, these type of ambivalent mottos leave the potential customer even less informed. If youre More than a bus company, than what exactly are you? A truck company? An airline? A travel agency? Who knows!

These More than tag lines probably began with the intention of creating curiosity in the minds of consumers, as if they will immediately demand Then tell me more! Tell me what you really do! But in the busy reality of daily life, few will bother to inquire further. It just takes too much effort. And if the company cant succinctly convey what they do, why should the consumer have to figure it out?

If you want to differentiate your company and its products, then create tag lines that are informative and compelling ones that will further position you in the eyes of your potential customer. If its going to work, it needs to be more than a tag line.

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